Towards Healing and Hope

If you joined us last night for our Kavana community vigil, we hope that you found something you needed. For our part, what we needed most was to be with you, so we thank you for coming. Judging by how full the room was -- full pews, people standing in the back -- we were not the only ones who felt that need to be together! For those who did not make it, we hope you’ll reach out and stay connected, to us and to each other. In times like this, we need each other more than ever.

If you joined us last night for our Kavana community vigil, we hope that you found something you needed. For our part, what we needed most was to be with you, so we thank you for coming. Judging by how full the room was -- full pews, people standing in the back -- we were not the only ones who felt that need to be together! For those who did not make it, we hope you’ll reach out and stay connected, to us and to each other. In times like this, we need each other more than ever.

We have been hearing from many of you over the last couple of days, and know that members of our community are experiencing a wide range of emotions and feeling the need for different kinds of support. With our program last night, we tried to create an arc that addresses some of the stages that people tend to go through after a traumatic event like this, incorporating music, prayer, and human connection into the vigil.  The flow was essentially this:

  • We began with grief and remembrance, with candle-lighting and memorial prayers.
  • Then we moved to healing for the injured victims, the bereaved, and ourselves.
  • Next, with Dan Rosen’s help, we focused on connecting with the resources we need to be resilient in the face of trauma.
  • Finally, we reflected on actions we can take to make our society safer and healthier.

Each of us may experience these needs – for grief, for healing, for resilience, and for empowerment and action – in different combinations. Whatever you are feeling, and whatever you need, please know that it is okay. You and your experience are welcome at Kavana any time.

By and large, America has been safe place for most Jews. For the vast majority of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents who came here, the safety and liberty they experienced as Jews when they came here was so much greater than in their countries of origin that many of them felt they had found “a promised land” here. That’s why with this shooting — the most devastating attack on Jews in American history — the impact is deeper than the event itself; it strikes at our sense that we are in a safe place.  

Over the last few days, many Christian and Muslim friends from partner communities have reached out to us with beautiful notes, prayers, and offers of support. This has been incredibly touching, but also a poignant reminder that we have now entered the ranks of the targeted. Even in the depths of our despair in the wake of this attack, we are reminded of our need to be active allies for other groups, many of whom may be feeling even more vulnerable than we are in this moment. African-Americans were specifically targeted in a shooting in a Kroger this week; we also feel a special kinship with immigrants, the LGBT+ community, Muslims, journalists, and more. It's not only the right thing to do, it's not only the smart thing to do, it's also the hopeful thing to do. Taking action together with others gives us hope because it reminds us that we are not alone. It reminds us that there are things we can do together to make ourselves and others safer. There is no silver-lining to a tragedy like this, but it can inspire us to live into our values even more, to build bridges, and to take collective action for the benefit of all Americans.

If you are looking for an additional opportunity to connect with the broader Seattle Jewish community, there will be a “Community Vigil for Pittsburgh” this evening at 7pm at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Capitol Hill. Doors open at 5:45pm and guests are encouraged to arrive early for heightened security screening.

Our next gatherings as a whole Kavana community will be this Shabbat – on Friday evening beginning at 6:30pm with a pre-service oneg and continuing with a musical/contemplative service at 7:00pm, and on Saturday morning at 10am for a “Camp-Style” Family Shabbat Service followed by a lunch potluck. We encourage you to come to one or both services to be in community.

Lastly, as we write this letter, we are sitting in the Kavana office looking at a pile of literally dozens of winter coats that were donated last week in conjunction with our Refugee Shabbat. These coats will be delivered to JFS and then distributed soon to refugees who are being resettled here. They are a beautiful reminder of our community’s generosity, and commitment to welcoming the stranger. There are countless other opportunities to act from a place of empowerment and help make the world a better place… including our upcoming pre-election phone banking events, and of course, VOTING! Please consult our last weekly newsletter for details on all of this, and join us in acting.